The proposed half-cent sales tax got a vote of confidence last week from the McLean Citizens Association (MCA), with a constituency that slogs every day through some of the heaviest traffic in Northern Virginia.
The MCA voted 21-9 to support the referendum and ask 70,000 McLean residents to vote “Yes” on Nov. 5.
McLean is surrounded by major thoroughfares: I-495, I-66, Route 7, Route 123 and the George Washington Parkway.
“This is all about catch-up. The under-investment in Northern Virginia in the last 20-25 years is astonishing,” said Theodore Weigle of the Hamptons of McLean.
The cornerstone of the transportation initiatives that would be funded from the bond is the connection from Tysons Corner to Dulles Airport, Weigle said.
“If we can’t support this as a citizens association, then we should close the doors,” he said.
Tom Brock, chairman of the MCA’s education committee, also spoke in support of the bond.
“If this passes, there is a chance a similar referendum will be allowed for schools,” he said.
Joanne Theon objected to the process the MCA used to adopt the resolution. She also warned that money from the bond sales could be diverted to balance the general fund budget.
Frank Crandall warned about the Dillon Rule.
“This is a major problem we will continue to face unless we wrest Northern Virginia from the Dillon Rule,” he said.
ALTHOUGH IT PASSED with a two-to-one margin, the MCA’s board of directors divided on the wording of the resolution.
Some members didn’t like the praise it heaped on McLean’s elected officials for coaxing the Virginia General Assembly to permit a vote on the local sales tax “and the ability to keep and use all such funds raised” in a region that has been “historically shortchanged by funding distribution formulas,” the resolution states.
“Our local public officials have worked tirelessly to not only accomplish this progress, but have dedicated themselves to continuing remedial action and reform so the region can receive its fair share of transportation funding,” read the resolution.
“MCA applauds and supports the efforts of our elected public officials for achieving the milestones of local control over such transportation matters,” the resolution said.
“I think the reference to the public officials should be stricken,” said Chris Monek, a former Arlington County Planning Commissioner who now serves at-large on the MCA board.
“I will mention [County Supervisor] Stu Mendelsohn ... He has gone out on a limb on this, and gone against some individuals in his own party,” said Clark Tyler of Hallcrest Heights, whose transportation committee wrote the resolution.
By a vote of 17-14, the MCA voted to retain the words of appreciation for public officials. The MCA also voted support for the public safety bond, state and local park bonds, and general obligation bond that will provide $845.9 million for higher education facilities in Virginia.
Crandall, chairman of the MCA’s committee for the environment, parks and recreation, said Virginia is one of the top four states in the country for attracting high-tech and knowledge-based industries.
“The quality of intellectual and cultural life” is one reason for that, Crandall said.
“A community does, at some point along the way, have to invest in itself,” said Herb Becker of the Franklin area.
Adrienne Whyte, chairman of planning and zoning committee, protested the absence of wording to require that all public projects be value engineered.
The MCA voted not to support a proposal to allow special exceptions to Fairfax County’s zoning ordinance to permit private athletic organizations to build facilities in public parks in R-C, or residential conservation, districts, where residential development co-exists with a conservation use.
The measure was tailored to allow D.C. United, the Washington, D.C., soccer organization, to build a training facility on Fairfax County parkland in exchange for developing fields for county residents, Whyte said.
Susan Turner said a parallel proposal would allow Marymount University to use a soccer field at Lewinsville Park in exchange for paying for artificial turf on the field.
“It would change Fairfax County zoning laws to accommodate people from outside the county,” Turner said.
“This zoning ordinance amendment would allow uses that are totally inconsistent with the objectives for R-C districts,” said the MCA resolution, “and may actually harm waterways, stream valleys, forest cover and aquifer recharge areas and contribute to the continued loss of natural open space in Fairfax County.
“It is precedent-setting. It is worrisome,” Whyte said.